Bishops speak about general conference

The outside of the Conference Center.

In the April 2021 general conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Quentin L. Cook, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke on the sacred and necessary role that bishops serve to watch over and guide the Lord’s children here on earth.

Bishop Jason Reeder, a father of four and a professor in the Communication Department at BYU-Idaho, gave advice for watching conference with kids.

“We’ll print off various worksheets, free resources, coloring sheets, so that while they’re there, they are coloring pictures of Christ or temples,” Reeder said. “I think it helps them not fight and beat each other up and kind of focus a little bit better.”

He also had advice on how to prepare spiritually for general conference.

“The number one thing that I do, and it’s really not all that revolutionary, is: I like to just listen to the previous conference,” Reeder said. “I want to be current and fresh on the most recent session that we’ve had. I think that prepares me to know where we’ve been and maybe help me get in the mindset of conference and where we’re going to be going here shortly.”

Something Reeder feels strongly that students remember is that the Saturday sessions are as important and sacred as the Sunday sessions. He spoke of receiving inspiration on both days of general conference.

“Saturday is part of conference,” Reeder said. “It’s a package deal. It’s so easy to treat Saturday as a Saturday in a go-play, go-do-stuff-type thing. I think it’s important that we do carve it out of our time and treat it like Sunday … There’s great content that comes out of those Saturday sessions. In fact, I have found that my most favorite sessions tend to be on Saturday, for some reason.”

Bishop Gary Payne is the bishop over the Rexburg YSA 7th Ward of the Rexburg Idaho YSA 7th Stake. Payne’s main piece of advice for students is to apply what they hear in their lives.

“I like to sit down and think about the things that have been on my mind over the last few months,” Payne said. “For example, the political situation in the United States really bothers me. I feel uncomfortable with the way things are going. The pandemic sometimes gets me down. I think about my children. I think about how I can help them. Before conference happens, a lot of those thoughts come to the forefront of my mind, and I actually do write those down and I say, okay, what can I learn here.”

During general conference, Payne listens for the solutions or advice given. He has seen his family draw closer as they listen together. This is especially true of his companionship with Sandra, his wife.

“If there’s a talk that really reaches to both of us at the same time, we’ll comment right after that talk,” Payne said. “We’ll say, ‘wow, we’ve got to read that one again.’ Together we’ll do that.”

Brother Lance Toone is a religion professor who is a former bishop, mission president and seminary teacher. Toone’s family would use each talk as an outline for a Home Evening lesson. Toone suggested tuning into general conference by sustaining the leaders, having a spiritual question and writing things down.

“Note-taking is a must, in my opinion,” Toone said.

Toone expressed passion as he talked about the blessing it is to have a prophet of God on the earth who is available to speak to the world through general conference.

“How incredible is that,” Toone said. “Talk positively about general conference, literally get excited and help others get excited too. Use it as a gift and missionary tool.”

Toone prefers to dress up ever since his seminary students told him about the way it invites the Spirit, and he felt that change in his own life. He encourages students to do what they feel is right for them. They can receive inspiration for themselves and for their families.

“Find what works for you,” Toone said, “and that makes all the difference.”